Fast Company: The Most Creative People in Business 2017

Justin Hall

PresidentBit Source

For teaching coal miners to code

Justin Hall was running a coding academy for kids in Lexington, Kentucky, when the owner of Bit Source, a software company deep in the state’s struggling coal region, asked him if he could teach coal miners to code too. Hall agreed and came up with a business plan in which Bit Source would hire former miners as “apprentices”—paying them $15 per hour (thanks to federal funds available to jump-start the region) to learn a curriculum he developed involving HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. In March 2015, Hall selected 10 former miners—chosen from more than 900 applicants—who quickly became fluent not just in coding basics but also in programs including Drupal, Xamarin, and Unity. Since then, they have completed dozens of projects, including repeat business from a Fortune 500 company. (Another ongoing effort, which the team brainstormed at an MIT hackathon in October 2016, is an app for delivering lifesaving drugs for opioid overdoses.) Hall says his goal is to establish the region as a hotbed for good coders and attract enough business to sustain the area’s thousands of displaced miners: “What we really want to say is, ‘We can do this work.’ ”

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Justin has over fifteen years experience in software and website development. He has worked with and led teams in a wide array of projects for Fortune 500 companies, start ups, non-profits, and small businesses. A native Kentuckian from Elkhorn City, Justin began working in technology shortly after graduating from Pikeville College (now UPike) in 1997. In 2001, Hall started JD Media in Lexington, Kentucky. Recently he has worked with several top agencies and tech companies in Lexington, Cincinnati, and San Francisco. A believer in Agile Development, Source Control, Open Source, Quality Assurance, and High Touch, Hall is excited about the opportunities surrounding Bit Source. He can be found on Linked In, Twitter, and many other social networks.